Update: They’re on the move! Signups for Johnson County open in 2016. Check your address and sign up for service availability updates for your area. You don’t want to be left behind!
It’s finally here. The Internet we’ve all been—hang on while this page loads—waiting for. You’ve probably heard a lot about the lighting-fast Internet that’s coming to town, but did you know that you need to sign up for Google Fiber by September 12 if you live in Northeast Johnson County? Or that Google estimates installing it could raise the property value of your house anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000?
Yep, we took a little field trip down to Google Fiber’s headquarters (1814 Westport Rd) in Kansas City, MO, to learn about this new fangled operation. Get the lowdown on the high-speed Internet and answers to all of your questions starting … now.
So what is Google Fiber exactly?
“It’s a brand new system that allows for higher speed Internet and overall better service,” says Adam Laden, a brand ambassador for Google Fiber in Kansas City.
Google Fiber promises a connection that is 100 times faster than the nation’s average broadband Internet, giving you one gigabit (or 1000 Mbps) for downloading and uploading until your heart’s content. In real talk, this means you could download 100 photos, 100 songs, one HD movie or a video game in a few seconds—literally.
“It’s definitely a step into the future,” Laden says.
Why did Google Fiber come to Kansas City first?
There’s no doubt that cities around the nation are jealous of Kansas City’s “fiber status.” After all, more than 1,100 cities responded when Google ask where they should start building the new network.
“I know Topeka was jealous because they even changed their name to Google for a month,” Laden says.
In the end, Google Fiber touched down in Kansas City, KS, and has been expanding ever since. Why KC? Ultimately, Laden says, it’s because of the city’s central location.
“Kansas City is kind of a crossroads for the nation,” Laden says. “We get people from all over the place.”
Another deciding factor? The utility lines in Kansas City are apparently very clean and organized.
“In Chicago it’s just a big wad of power lines,” Laden says. “So now we’re the guinea pigs.”
What if my Internet is already really fast?
Some people tell Laden they don’t need faster Internet because their “emails load so quickly already!” He reminds them that back in the day—before email and Instant Messenger—people were also satisfied with their dial-up service.
“It’s like someone who refuses to travel using anything but a bike. You miss out on seeing so many other opportunities and experiences,” Laden says.
Recently a local rock band called Patriarch had quite an experience thanks to Google Fiber. After 28 years, they were finally able to reunite and play a show in Kansas City, but only three of the five band members were in the same room. Google’s high-speed fiber optic network allowed the other two band members to tune in virtually and play their parts as if the whole band was playing on stage together.
“[Google Fiber] allows you to be in different places at the same time,” Laden says. “It creates a new sense of virtual reality.”
Currently the lightning fast Internet is only available in residential homes, but Laden says Google plans to focus on businesses sometime next year. And he’s heard of cases where people are specifically moving to Kansas City to launch businesses out of their homes using Google Fiber.
The high-speed Internet won’t just change businesses for the better, it could benefit schools, libraries and eventually lead to advances in medicine and create revolutionary concepts like e-doctors visits. However, Laden does admit that Google Fiber is probably faster Internet than the average person needs—at the present moment.
“It’s not necessarily that we need it now, but we’ll need it in the future,” Laden says. “Plus it allows us to learn from each other. With the high speeds, people are more likely to contribute to the Internet rather than just take from it.”
How much does it cost?
At $70 a month for Internet service or $120 a month for Internet and television service, the price is hard to beat.
“If you compare it to other companies, you don’t even get one tenth of the speed for that price,” Laden says.
The aforementioned prices don’t include the one-time construction fee which will set you back $300. Take a closer look at the pricing plans available, but note that Google Fiber doesn’t provide any type of phone service.
Wait, can I really get basic speed Internet for free?
Yes, you can skip the high-speed and receive free Internet at “today’s basic speeds” for at least seven years. You still have to pay the $300 construction fee, but you can break it down to $25-a-month payments for one year.
“This plan gives lower income families a chance to use the Internet as a learning tool,” Laden says. “Internet should be a right not a luxury.”
What are some of the cool cable features?
Instead of a DVR, the Google Fiber TV package comes with a storage box. This box can hold two terabytes of information—roughly 500 hours of HD content. You can record eight TV shows at one time or seven if you’re already watching a channel (check out the complete list of cable channels).
And feel free to record a show upstairs and watch it in the basement later, because the storage box holds the data for all of your different TV boxes. However the storage box isn’t just for storing your Modern Family and Game of Thrones recordings.
“I can take a picture and instead of saving it to my phone, I can save it to my storage box at home,” Laden says.
The box is also able to store your personal music and videos. Not to mention, you’re able to access popular apps like Netflix and YouTube.
“If you don’t have a smart TV, the storage box basically turns your TV into one,” Laden says.
And you’ll never have to worry about losing the remote again. The Google Fiber TV app allows you to turn all of your tablets and smart phones into giant remote controls where you can change the channel and schedule recordings all within the confines of your house.
How does it work?
You may have seen the Google Fiber trucks around your neighborhood. Those guys are laying out the fiber-optic lines. According to the Google Fiber website, fiber optics are made of glass thinner than a strand of human hair and these fiber optics are what connects your home to Google Fiber’s high-speed network. Because Fiber relies on beams of light, there is no interference like you experience with copper wires.
“It’s like you’re driving on a highway to work at rush hour and you have the entire road all to yourself,” Laden says.
How do I sign up?
You can’t sign up for the service until Google Fiber comes to your neck of the woods. Visit Google Fiber’s website and click on the “Check Address” button to see if your time is now. If you live in Northeast Johnson County, you must sign up by September 12 if you want to join the Fiber Club. The rest of Johnson County is slated for later in 2014, except for Overland Park, which will go Fiber sometime in 2015.
So how will you know exactly when your time has come? You can enter your email address to get Google Fiber updates on when it’ll be in your area. Or be on the lookout for flyers on your door and mobile “Fiberspace” locations popping up around your town. You can also check Google Fiber’s blog for the latest high-speed happenings.
What happens if I don’t sign up by the deadline?
Sorry, Charlie, but you basically have to wait until Google Fiber reopens up your “Fiberhood” and only Google Fiber knows when that will be. Unfortunately, the same goes for Fiberhoods that don’t meet their sign-up goals. If a city is even one sign-up short of its goal, Google Fiber will send condolences—but no high-speed Internet.
I signed up, now what?
Now you wait.
“Because it’s a brand new service, it’s hard to release a timeline,” Laden says. “Once you sign up, you’ll be contacted to set up an installation day.”
He says this could take anywhere from a few days—to a few months. First, a utility box will go on the outside of your house and then a “rocket van” (pictured above) will arrive to install the equipment inside your home. This process will involve a router and a number of boxes: a converter box, a storage box, a TV box and a network box. But don’t panic, Laden says, the crew won’t leave until they’ve explained everything.
If you have additional questions you can call the Google’s support team 24/7 in Austin, TX —or you could always just Google it.